Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not Even Important Enough for a Pithy Title

Pre-Pubescent One now has the flu. But, not the same flu that Diminutive One and Husband had. That flu started with a brutal hacking cough and evolved into stuffy nose, chills, body aches, and high fever. Sort of a head cold on steroids.

This flu is puking. And puking. And more puking.

Frankly, I was not terribly sympathetic when he first told me he wasn't feeling well. He's a hypochondriac, and very dramatic to boot. Which means that every little ache and pain produces great moans, groans, sighs and desperate bids for attention.

For several hours after I picked him up from school Tuesday with a low-grade fever, he lay on the couch and moaned dramatically and punctually, timing his performances roughly 10 minutes apart.

It was getting on my last. nerve.

But then his fever soard to 104 and he began spewing things that looked like they might have come from much farther down the gastrointestinal tract than his stomach.

And then I had to concede that he was really sick.

He continued to spew things and so, I didn't sleep last night, but rather, lay wakeful in my bed listening for the latest eruption. He had a basin by his head, and other than providing that, there wasn't much I could do. But still...a kid wants his Mom when he's puking his ever loving guts out, even if the rest of the time, he is far too cool to admit he even has a Mom.

So I'm tired, and not really up to being deep or pithy today. Sorry.

There are a few random things I have to talk about, however.

First, someone emailed me for some advice about doulas, and I, somehow, deleted it. Please, please, please, please, please email me again. I would love to talk to you about it. Truly. I know you're sitting there thinking I'm a snooty bitch who doesn't answer her email, but really, I'm just a dolt who can't even work her email properly.

Second, this past weekend Husband and I watched a movie called Martian Child.

It wasn't a big blockbuster. I had never even heard of it. We don't get to go to many movies that don't aren't animated and/or feature digitally rendered mythical beings.

Simply put, this movie blew me away. Maybe, if you don't have a child that is a little eccentric, a little unusual; one who walks a different path, to the beat of a different won't be as meaningful to you.

But if you have one of those kids who just doesn't fit inside the very narrow definition of normal, then this is a movie you should see.

It makes me wonder if, instead of trying so hard to help our children fit into their world, we should focus on making their world more accepting of them. Maybe, we should embrace their uniqueness instead of trying to shove them into ill fitting boxes. Maybe we could all learn someting if we would look through their eyes.

Maybe, we should believe in their right to be different. Maybe, we should champion the fantastic.

John Cusack, whom I have loved since he played "Hoops" in that movie One Crazy Summer and later, Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything is all grown up now. And he gives a truly stunning performance.

I love discovering little gems like that.

Third, Prince of If you haven't read it, do.

I loathe book reviews that give away the entire plot, so I will spare you that. But I will say that Pat Conroy is an amazing storyteller and his prose is absolutely remarkable. I found myself speaking phrases from the book because they were so beautiful, so interesting, or so evocative that I just needed to hear them said aloud.

His characters are wonderfully rich and complex. Even his villians are not so villainous when he has peeled back all the layers and exposed the core of their misery. It takes a real pro at character development to create a vulnerable, sympathetic nemesis.

Again I must thank whomever it was who recommended that I read him. I can't wait to crack open another of his brilliant stories.

Last but not least, I would like to leave you with this from my friend Nina. It is the first verse of a poem she wrote. You can read the rest of it here.

she cried uncle today,
life's expectations, self expectations
she dropped them at her feet.
She then stepped over them and walked away.

For some reason, that hits me right in the gut.

Afterthought: Seriously? I am OVER the pussy searches.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


You know, having bright kids can be both a blessing and a curse.

Sometimes, I'm not exactly sure if it's more one or the other. But for better or worse, it keeps one on their parental toes.

Diminutive one is an inquisitive kid. He often asks a stream of questions that can leave me feeling both exhausted and distinctly inadequate in the intellectual sense.

We have family dinners as many nights as I can manage. During the winter, that's usually every night, including weekends. From March to October when they are playing baseball, it's harder, but we still eat dinner together at least 3-4 times a week.

Eating dinner together was something that my family always did growing up. I remember some of our really wonderful dinner conversations with fondess. Even still when we go to my parents house, we linger at the dinner table talking over coffee. It used to be that the kids left as soon as the meal was through, but now that they are older, they stay and listen.

We talk about everything from religion, to politics, to art, literature and history. My Dad is a WWII buff and the boys love to listen to him talk about it. He was in Vietnam, and the boys think it terribly glamorous and exciting that he was an honest to goodness soldier in an honest to goodness war.

There will come a day when he will explain to my boys that war is anything but glamorous, and why, but for now, he just answers their questions and basks in their admiration.

Sometimes the conversation at our dinner table was silly and lighthearted, sometimes it was more serious and thought provoking. But it always made us feel connected.

Quite often, Diminutive One's cavalcade of questions takes place while we are a captive audience at our own dinner table. Most of the time, I don't mind, because it has spawned some very interesting discussion.

Other times, I just want to eat, and maybe actually talk to my spouse a little.

We occasionally have to issue a "no talking" edict, because he gets so involved in his questioning that he forgets to eat.

The other place that I am often cross examined is the car. Diminutive One's therapist's office is quite a ways from our home; nearly an hour commute each way. When he was seeing her weekly, he used this time to his advantage.

It's amazingly difficult to be sufficiently erudite when one is endeavoring not to become someone else's hood ornament.

My son does not ask easy questions. He never has. I can't just rattle off some pat explanation, because he knows when I am not putting enough thought into my answers. If he is not satisfied, he will persist until I offer up something suitably academic.

Here are is a sampling of questions he has asked me just this week:

Is it a good thing to disrupt conventional thinking?

How do you disrupt conventional thinking?

(From an ADD commercial)

Have you ever considered making a newspaper?

How do you get paper big enought to print a newspaper?

(I have no idea where that came from)

What is an emissary?

(School vocabulary word)

What is diplomacy?

How do you become a diplomat?

(Prompted by my explanation of "emissary")

Was Elizabeth I alive when the 13 colonies were founded?

Why did Henry VII execute his wives? Why didn't he just get a divorce?

Why didn't Elizabeth want to get married?

Why did her sister want to kill her? Didn't they love each other?

Why did Protestants and Catholics hate each other?

Why did they call her a bastard when her Mom and Dad were married?

(We recently watched Elizabeth and Elizabeth; the Golden Age. She is one of my most admired historical figures)

Do you think George Washington Carver knew that people would love peanut butter cookies so much?

If he was such a famous inventor, how come nobody knows who he was?

(He is researching GWC for a school project and found that he discovered over 300 uses for peanuts)

What is prejudice?

Why did people think black people aren't smart?

Do they still think that?

(Again, the explanation spawns more questions than it answers)

Why was Beethoven so sad if he could write such great songs?

Why does that one song make me feel like crying when I feel happy listening to it?

Why didn't they call a doctor so he could live longer?

(We also watched Immortal Beloved recently, "that one song" is Ode to Joy.)

Don't judge me, it's been really rainy here and he's had the flu.

How come some people don't believe in evolution when we have such an extensive fossil record?

(I swear to God he said that. He loves Bill Nye.)

What happens to people who don't believe in God when they die?

Do they just disappear?

(Spirituality is an ongoing topic of discussion in our home. Go figure.)

Can you see how such relentless questioning can wear a person down?

I don't get easy stuff like Why is the sky blue? or Where do babies come from? Oh no. I get deep, abstruse, philosophical stuff that I not only have to answer, but couch in terms that a 9 year old can understand.

Last night at the table, I was trying to explain "diplomacy", but I was simply too weary. I asked husband for help. He gave me an evil grin and said. "I'm eating."

Gee, thanks for the support, hun.

Sometimes, I just have to tell Diminutive One that my mind is too tired to answer questions any more, which usually elicits an apology from him.

"I'm sorry Mom, there's just so much stuff to know. I'm afraid I'll never know all the stuff I want to know."

I know how he feels.

I wish I could just gather up all the knowledge that he craves so much and deposit it into the spongy gray runnels of his beautiful brain. But then, I think...that would deprive him of the joy of revelation; the challenge of exploration, the thrill of realization.

And that makes me think of how very, very far he has come. Once, learning was a chore. Now, it is a voyage of discovery; one that he embraces with the passion of the young who are so innocently hungy.

That makes me ridiculously happy.

Even if it is flippin exhausting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmmm......

Many of my readers know that one of my pet issues is separation of church and state.

I firmly believe in keeping religion out of the schools. I am quite rabid about it, actually.

Paradoxically, I do not mind my child saying the pledge of allegiance. I don't find the phrase "One Nation Under God" offensive because I haven't quite made the paradigm shift from agnosticism to atheism, and I believe that "One Nation under God" can mean God in any of his many manifestations.

I suppose God himself does not offend me; only those who insist that their own beliefs are unassailable.

Not long ago, some whack job (coughkathycoxcough) decided to take up the cause to eliminate all references to evolution in textbooks here in Georiga in favor of intelligent design. Yes, she is still in office. That should tell you something about the mindset of voters here in Georgia.

Anyway, I think about evolution and creationism and intelligent design a lot.

Recently, a post by my friend Nina got me to thinking about vaginas and that led to some more woolgathering about intelligent design.

How does one make the leap from vaginas to intelligent design? you might ask.

Well, that is a staggeringly legitimate question.

What I was wondering was this:

For all you proponents of intelligent design...

How do you explain the fact that the clitoris is on the outside?


Stupendously unintelligent design, folks.

And the g-spot? Nice afterthought, but in a once again flagrant display of profoundly lacking insight, the male member was not designed in such a way as to actually reach it. Easily.

You know why women put perfume behind the knees? So they don't have to smell their own knee sweat when they are...erm...facilitating the reaching of the g-spot.

Yeah. I'm sticking with evolution.

Nature screws up. That's believable. Omnipotent being not foreseeing a problem with that whole arrangement? Not so much.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adventures in Sisterhood; Part Four - The Final Chapter

It doesn't seem that my Sister Series is generating much interest, and that makes me a little sad. But I try to write this blog for me. I don't always succeed, because comments are seductive. But catering to an audience, has, I think, resulted in the...erm, artistic compromise of a several bloggers that I really liked once upon a time.

Also, this story has a lot of personal meaning for me, for reasons that won't really be clear to those outside my immediate family who are reading the story. So here it is, like it or not. I've enjoyed writing it. I've enjoyed reliving it. I've enjoyed seeing things from my 9 year old perspective again. Because sometimes, growing up and learning the truth of things

And so, with great trepidation, Middle Sister and I left Baby Sister ensconced in the bathtub, and tried to make ourselves as inconspicuous as possible. We retreated to our bedroom, and in a gesture of unprecedented magnanimity, I shared my fashion plates with Middle Sister.

We colored in companionable but lackluster silence, our enthusiasm for the endeavor curbed by our precarious solidarity. We knew that it wouldn’t be long before the absence of Baby Sister was discovered. The knowledge gravely diminished the joy of mixing and matching.

My father did not possess my mother’s shrewdness in knowing just when something was up, but it wouldn’t take him long to discover Baby Sister’s absence. Three daughters out of sight are truly out of mind. But two daughters present and one small daughter unaccounted for is reason for concern.

We waited.

And all too soon, the moment of truth came.


Instead of charging down the stairs in our usual manner, one which caused my mother remark with regularity that we sounded like a herd of elephants, we slowly and soberly descended, dragged our feet through the living room, entered the kitchen and went to our respective chairs with a kind of dread that one would expect if said chair were an electrified instrument of doom.

Noting the diminished number of daughters who responded to his call, my father placed our plates before us without saying a word. He watched us munch our grilled cheese with exaggerated nonchalance. He asked the question not with his voice, but his eyes…Where is your Baby Sister?

Finally he spoke.

“Is somebody going to tell me where Baby Sister is?”

As oldest, it fell to me to be our mouthpiece.

“Gee Dad, we don’t know. We were doing fashion plates. We thought she was with you.”

“Yeah.” Said Middle Sister

If my mother had been conducting the interrogation, she would have divined immediately that something was up and that we were guilty as the day is long. My father, however, lacked that maternal perceptiveness. And even if he did suspect we were involved, he lacked the confidence to accuse us with conviction.
Mothers know that intuition is a valuable tool in their parenting arsenal. They trust it and rely on it heavily. But most fathers are not quite so convinced of the veracity of their own instincts. They doubt themselves and they doubt that inner voice.

We always knew this on some level, although if you had asked us, I doubt we could have explained it. But we knew to take advantage of it.

Now my father looked puzzled. His forehead creased with concern and consternation.

“You’re sure you don’t know where she is?”

“Yeah. We haven’t seen her.”

Middle sister decided to join in.

“You mean… you don’t know where she is either Daddy?” she said, with convincing innocence.

Her voice held just the right amount of accusation and disbelief and we both watched as my father’s demeanor evolved from suspicion, to guilt, to alarm.

“Um…no. I don’t, actually.”

We looked at each other with great meaning, and then Middle Sister stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam into the fertile green field of my father’s doubt and insecurity.

“Mom’s going to be home pretty soon.” was all she said.

“Alright girls, lunch is over! We have to find Baby Sister, pronto! Girls, you look outdoors. Make sure you check the neighbor’s yard and go all the way around the block. I’ll search the house.”

We headed outdoors, confident that we had allayed his suspicion and secured our innocence. We took our time searching the backyard and the dark, musty garage, knowing he would find Baby Sister soon enough.

We poked around in the gloomy recesses, careful to avoid cobwebs and stepping gracefully over rainbow streaked slicks of oil on the cracked cement floor. We disliked the garage, and normally avoided it at all costs, but we had to appear to be busily searching, while still remaining in earshot.

We wanted to be on the scene as quickly as possible to express our shock and dismay and to effectively diffuse any implications that Baby Sister might inadvertently cast our way.

As we expected, it didn’t take long. My Dad’s voice called to us from the bathroom window, which was located on the same side of the house as the garage.

“GIRLS! I’ve found her. She’s in the bathtub!”

His relief was evident in the tone of his voice.

We squealed with feigned jubilance and raced into the house. We pounded up the stairs to the bathroom, where our father was helping Baby Sister climb out of the tub, and looking around the bathroom with shock.

“Baby Sister, what did you DO?” he asked her.

She looked from us to him, her big blue eyes clear and guileless.

“Pay game Daddy. Fee me!”


“Fee Pincess Daddy! Huwy!”

He was completely and totally flummoxed. He simply had no idea what she was trying to say, and looked to us beseechingly.

“Girls, do you know what she’s saying?”

“No Daddy.” said Middle Sister with conviction.

“Uh-huh.” said I.

“Just look at this MESS!” he groaned.

Baby Sister’s lip began to tremble and her eyes filled with tears. She held out her still firmly cemented little fists.

“Stuck, Daddy.”

He studied her outstretched hands and quickly realized that they were, indeed, stuck.

“Well now, that’s a problem isn’t it? Don’t worry, Squeak, we’ll fix it.”

Squeak was his pet name for her, so given because as an infant, she would emit tiny, high pitched little cries, much like that of a mouse.

He grasped her small pink wrists in his big brown hands and pulled gently. After a moment Baby Sister began to whimper. He stopped pulling and scratched thoughtfully at the flinty stuff with his thumbnail.

“Hmmmm. I think we might need to soak it off.”

He began to undress Baby Sister, but was momentarily stymied when he realized her shirt would not come off due to the unfortunate condition of her hands. He just shook his head and laughed. He left Baby Sister standing naked by the side of the tub, with her round little belly sticking out and her pink shirt dangling from her wrists while he ran water in the tub.

At some point, Baby Sister realized she had been had, because she gazed at us with an accusatory malevolence.

“Stuck.” she said to us, pouting.

Soon the tub was full and she was deposited within. Her towhead was scarcely visible above the high white sides. She churned her pudgy feet in the water and laughed when fat droplets landed on Dad’s glasses. He took them off and placed them on the edge of the sink. With his eyes denuded of their gleaming façade, it was easy to see that her clear blue gaze was a clone of his own.

“Big Sister, go down and get some dish soap from the kitchen sink for me.” My father commanded.

I dashed down, grabbed the bottle, and dashed breathlessly back up. I handed it to him, and he squeezed a liberal amount over Baby Sister’s hands. The blue liquid swirled into the hot water, making thick ribbons of color between her legs.

“Dad, why are you using dish soap?” asked Middle Sister.

He shrugged and replied “I dunno. I guess I thought it might help loosen this stuff up. It seems to work on dirty dishes, right?”

It made sense.

He pushed the sodden shirt back over her head and then massaged her wrists and fingers gently, pausing every so often to pull at her hands. Slowly, the now grimy gray sludge began to dissolve, clouding the water and scenting the bathroom once again with sweetness of honey. Finally, with a slow sucking sound, her hands separated.

Baby Sister shrieked with glee and clapped her hands. Gobs of semi solid goo went flying. It didn’t matter much, considering the thorough job we had done staging the scene. She held up her hands, beaming.

“Daddy fee me!”

“You’re hungry now? Well you did miss lunch, didn’t you?”

“Too wuv!” crowed Baby Sister.

Our poor beleaguered father once again shook his head in bewilderment.

“Someday, Squeak, I’m going to have to get you to tell me what this was all about.”

Middle Sister and I exchanged glances, fervently hoping that someday the whole thing would be long forgotten.

“Girls, please clean up this mess while I feed your sister. You’re going to need lots of soap and water. Get the bucket from under the kitchen sink.”

Under normal circumstances, we would have protested heartily at this injustice. But we knew we had dodged a bullet, and were in no mood to tempt fate further. We gathered the cleaning supplies and went to work. It took forever. In some places, the substance was so thoroughly bonded with the more porous surfaces that we had to get a butter knife to chisel it off.

By the time my mother got home, we were exhausted and remorseful and hungry, as we had missed our lunch as well. The physical exertion had ignited our appetites and now that the immediate crisis had passed, we were ravenous.

We heard her car pull into the drive, and our relief, along with the certainty that we had gotten away with it, evaporated. We both knew my mother was much cannier than my father. He had been relatively easy to dupe, but my mother was a far more formidable foe.

The back door slammed shut and voices floated up the stairs; strident, but too indistinct for us to get the gist of the conversation. Soon our mother’s footsteps were heard on the stairs, and then she was standing in the bathroom doorway, surveying the scene with her sharp gaze.

She reached into the garbage can and pulled out the empty jar. She snorted.

“My new oatmeal and honey face mask. I never even used it.”

She looked at us again but did not speak for a very long time. We knew how this game was played. She was trying to unnerve us into admitting something. All we had to do was keep our mouths shut.

Her green eyes burned through our clothing and our skin, right to the very core of our rapidly beating hearts. GUILTY guilty, GUILTY guilty, GUILTY guilty, they drubbed. The guilt oozed from our very pores. She could see it, she could hear it, she could smell it.

I could see that Middle Sister was close to cracking and I felt my own resolve crumbling in the face of her scrutiny.

But finally she said with resignation, “Someday….she’s going to be able to tell on you.”

And then she turned and left us to wallow in our own guilt.

The story of Baby Sister’s accidental "self" imprisonment has become something of a family legend. To this day my father tells of finding her in the tub with her hands cemented together.

My mother is usually the only one who doesn’t laugh. She simply looks at Middle Sister and me.

And to this can makes us both squirm.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Adventures in Sisterhood; Part Three

I inserted two fingers into the jar and scooped out a generous portion. It was cool and gelatinous and slightly lumpy. I inverted my palm and looked at it suspiciously as it hung suspended; viscous, but inert.

“Is that the right stuff?” asked Middle Sister dubiously.

“I don’t know, but we have to try something.” I said desperately.

Baby sister peered into the jar and sniffed experimentally.

“Mmmmmm.” she said.

“It’s not to eat Baby sister. It’s to put on your face to get the ickies off.”

“Face?” she inquired.

“Yes, your face. Let’s put it on your faaaaaace, okaaay??” crooned Middle Sister in a soothing, motherly manner.

“K!” she said agreeably.

Looking at each other dubiously over the top of her red-gold head, we began to apply the stuff to her face. We smeared it around in vigorous circles, they way we had seen my mother do it.

“Is it working?” asked Middle Sister. The hope in her voice was hard to ignore.

“I don’t know. I think so.”

And indeed, it did seem to dissolving the caked up mess on her face. The little bits of toilet paper were becoming unglued and the worst of the streaks were fading as we massaged her warm and pliant baby flesh. Her blue eyes creased into long lashed smiles as I scrubbed at the sinister looking smudges beneath them.

“Hold still Baby Sister, or I’ll get it in your eyes!” I said. I did not want those ear piercing shrieks to be called forth once again.

“Here, play with this.”

I handed her the jar and watched with satisfaction as she dug into the glop and began to splat it pat it between the starfishes of her baby hands.

Eventually, we managed to scrub of all of the make-up and set about removing the gooey substance from her face. It took a while, and we realized, with no small amount of apprehension, that the mixture had begun to harden. But a wet washcloth soon took care of that and in a few moments we were ready to stand back and scrutinize our work.

Baby Sister’s cheeks glowed a healthy pink from our ministrations, but otherwise, we could see no traces of the drunken and debauched middle aged woman that had confronted us a short time ago. Middle Sister moved closer and peered at her with intense concentration.

“I think there’s still some eyeliner on her eyes.” She said worriedly.

“Dad won’t notice that.” I said, sounding more confident than I felt.

“Are you sure?”


She sighed heavily. “Okay then.”

She turned back to Baby Sister and chirped “All done Baby Sister!”

Baby sister merely blinked at us with owlish intensity. Then, she held up her clenched fists imploringly and said simply, “Stuck.”

We were confused for a moment. Middle Sister and I exchanged puzzled looks and then looked back at Baby Sisters interlocked hands. I saw the congealed sludge oozing from between her chubby fingers, coating her knuckles, and encircling her wrists. With something approaching horror, I realized what had happened.

“Oh. Shit.” I said.

“WHAT?” asked Middle Sister. Her voice was squeaky with panic.

“Her hands are stuck together. That stuff hardened and now her hands are stuck together.”

“Ohshit.” repeated Middle Sister. “This is bad. What’re we gonna DO?”

“I don’t know. Get the washcloth.”

We soaked the washcloth and tried in vain to wipe away the impossibly hard crust cementing her hands together. But the water didn’t even penetrate the surface, it simply beaded up and rolled off, leaving a small puddle on the floor in front of the toilet where Baby Sister sat.

“Oh my God. The water is useless.” I said with fatalistic certainty.

“This is bad. Bad, bad, bad. Very, very bad.” chanted Middle sister.

Now, I was well and truly panicked. I knew we needed some kind of solvent, but I had no idea what kind of thing we could use that would dissolve the petrified matter without stripping all the flesh from Baby Sister’s bones. I was good and scared.

Big Trouble seemed wholly, horribly, and disconcertingly unavoidable now.

Baby Sister was growing impatient. She pumped her conjoined fists up and down for emphasis and said again, “STUCK!”

She wasn’t upset. Yet. Suddenly I had an idea.

“I know, Baby Sister, let’s play a game!”

Her face lit up, and she would have clapped her hands with delight if she was able. Baby Sister loved games. And now, I, her big sister, her guardian and her hero, was going to exploit that love shamelessly to save my own skin.

“Yes, the game is Hide from Daddy.”

Her brow furrowed momentarily and her eyes clouded with doubt. This did not sound like a good game. I had to really sell it.

“Yes. Daddy loves to play this game” I said with authority. “See, you are the Princess, and an evil Warlock has cast a spell that has turned your hands to stone. Daddy is the Prince, and only his love can undo the spell and free you.”

“Fee me?”

The other thing Baby Sister loved was Princesses and Princes. I felt terribly ashamed, but I also felt the desperate to avoid the very real prospect of numerous curtailed freedoms. I soldiered on.

“Yes. But you can’t tell the Prince that a spell has been cast upon you. You must let the purity of true love guide his actions and only then will you be free.”

“Daddy wuv me.”

“Yes, he does. Daddy loves you very much! So, you must hide, and let Daddy, er…the Prince find you. Be very quiet, because if you summon the Warlock, he will kill the Prince, and you will be trapped forever.”

“Okay!” she said eagerly. She had fully embraced the spirit of the game and would now be suitably compliant.

I tapped my chin and gazed contemplatively into the distance, while Middle Sister stared at me with a mixture of awe and disgust.

“Now, leeeeeet’s see...what would be a good hiding place?”

“The bathtub!” exclaimed Middle Sister.

“Perfect!” I declared. “The Warlock will never think to look there! Quick Baby Sister, into the tub!”

“Okay!” she said with breathless excitement. “Huwy!”

We helped her clamber over the sides of the antique cast iron tub and drew the shower curtain shut. Baby Sister giggled. Middle Sister stuck her head in and reminded her one more time to be quiet. She held a finger to her lips and whispered, “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

Baby Sister nodded soberly and pressed her ruby lips together tightly.

Once Baby Sister was safely stowed and silenced, Middle Sister turned to me and inquired, “Now what?”

“We have to make it look like she did it herself.”

“I don’t know Big Sister, that’s really mean.”

“She won’t get in trouble. She’s just a baby and she doesn’t know any better.”

Still dubious, Middle Sister asked, “How?”

“Help me smear this stuff all over the bathroom.”

“WHAT? No way. What if she gets a spanking?”

Middle Sister was perilously close to tears and I sensed mutiny. I couldn’t lose her now, or we would lose all hope of our plan succeeding.

“Look, if it looks like she’s going to get spanked, we’ll confess everything. But if not, then we’ll just keep our mouths shut and everything will be okay. Do you want to be grounded??” I demanded.

“No.” she said morosely.

“Alright then, help me!”

Together we began troweling the sweet smelling mask all over the bathroom. I was especially proud of the smeary hand print I left on the wall by the towel rack, and the wadded up hand towel I tossed into the sink.

At last our work was done. After exhorting Baby Sister one more time to be silent, we left the bathroom and went downstairs to wait.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adventures in Sisterhood; Part Two

On that historic Saturday, we decided to give Baby Sister a makeover. A much less harrowing though also substantially less thrilling venture.

We got out all the various pots and palettes that my mother trustingly kept beneath the bathroom cabinet, and went to work. Baby Sister sat agreeably still while we tried to copy the techniques we had seen our Mom use. She opened, closed and pouted on command, no doubt pleased as punch to have our undivided and seemingly benevolent attention. Poor kid.

As I was applying the finishing touches, Middle Sister said,

“Ummm, Big Sister, that doesn’t really look like when Mom does it.”

She was right. I was going for Olivia Newton John, but somehow, Baby Sister looked more like Joan Crawford on a bender.

“Well that’s because I’m not finished yet.” I said indignantly. “I have to do the contouring.”

“Contouring? What’s that?” Middle Sister asked. Her tone was doubtful.

“It’s a technique that make-up artists use. You’ll see.”

I continued layering and blending, until Joan Crawford had morphed into Bela Lugosi. It was hopeless and I had to concede defeat.

“That looks kind of bad, Big Sister.”

“Yeah, we should probably wash it off.”

Baby Sister, completely unaware of her unsettling appearance, demanded,

“Me see!”

Middle Sister and I exchanged looks and she shrugged.

“Maybe she’ll like it.” she said, hopefully.

“Me see!” Baby Sister demanded once again.

I hesitantly handed Baby Sister a mirror. Her look of gleeful anticipation quickly turned to shock and horror. The crimson slash that was her once cherubic pout opened like a gaping wound and she began to shriek. The tears ran from her mascara caked blue eyes, turning her already ghoulish visage into an even more horrific display.

We offered her cookies, piggyback rides, unlimited choice of television programming…nothing would stop the disconsolate wailing. We began to panic, knowing that if Dad was roused from the couch, there would be Big Trouble.

“Offer her your Purple Pie Man.” I commanded.

“What?!?!?” She huffed. “Why should I? She likes your Fashion Plates just as much!”

At this point, Baby Sister’s cries escalated a notch, and we abandoned the argument in the interest of shutting her up. Middle sister closed the bathroom door and frantically stuffed a towel into the one inch gap beneath the door, while I tried to scrub Baby Sister’s face with spit moistened toilet tissue, which, of course, immediately disintegrated and stuck to the mess already caking her face.

She looked like she was molting. Now instead of Joan Crawford or Bela Lugosi, she looked some large species of fowl with a serious problem. Her fine red-gold hair, which had a tendency to stand on end, contributed to that impression. I stealthily slid the mirror underneath the bath mat, terrified that she would get another glimpse at herself.

“Middle Sister, this stuff won’t come off. What are we going to do????”

“I don’t know!” she wailed. “You’re the oldest!”

The honor and distinction of being firstborn comes with certain responsibilities, which, depending upon the circumstances, are either grievously lamented, or blatantly exploited. In this case, I would have willingly relinquished my place in the birth order and given up all the associated perks to escape the blame and guilt that was sure to be heaped upon me in the form of a “we expect more from you because you’re the oldest” speech.

Our parents were masters at making us truly sorry for our errant ways. Not because of consequences, which, though often suitably disagreeable, were nothing compared to the shame of letting them down. Spankings weren’t half as effective as a slow sad head shake and a look of heart wrenching disappointment on the face of the people who gave me life. I dreaded the guilt, and, like all parents, mine were disconcertingly aware of that fact.

Something had to be done.

I’m sure that cosmetics in 1978 were full of carcinogens, lead, red dye No. 5 and rodent droppings, but they sure had staying power. I began rifling through the bathroom cabinets, looking for the stuff I had seen my mother smearing on her face to remove the pancake foundation, mauvulous blusher, and spiced plum iridescent eye shadow.

I loved that plum iridescen eye shadow. In later years I would sneak it out of the bathrooom and apply it liberarally to my lids. I would wear it to the roller rink, feeling sophisticated and glamorous. Often, I would forget to put back until my Mother was getting ready for work the next day. She would holler “I’M GOING TO GET DRESSED NOW. WHOEVER TOOK MY SPICED PLUM EYESHADOW HAD BETTER GET IN BACK IN THE BATHROOM BEFORE I GET BACK!!”

She knew full well that "whoever", was me.

At last I found what I thought was cold cream, and held it aloft with the kind of reverence one would typically reserve for a holy relic. I opened the jar and inhaled the sweet redolence of oatmeal and honey.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Adventures in Sisterhood; Part One

I have two sisters. My youngest sister is 6 years younger than me, and sadly, due to our age difference, we are not as close as I would like. As a child, she was widely regarded as a “handful” by friends, family and caregivers. I think today she would be labeled “Spirited”. My Diminutive One reminds me very much of the way my sister was as a child. Full of beans, smart as all get out, but completely unaware of just how special they are.

This past weekend I was speaking to my other sister about her, and afterwards I was thinking about how we interacted as children. We weren’t mean to her (most of the time). But as older sibling tend to do, we manipulated her to suit our whims and do our bidding, used her as a plaything and a scapegoat, and ignored her when we had more important things to do than amuse ourselves by tormenting her.

There is one story that has become a fond and often told tale in our family folklore. It recounts how my father, when left in charge of us one Saturday morning while my mother went to work, suddenly found himself short one daughter.

My Dad was a blue collar worker all of his life. He worked long hard hours for a barely adequate paycheck. Understandably, when Saturdays rolled around, he wasn’t inclined to do much of anything except indulge in an intimate relationship with the couch and the television. Sometimes, we would join him on the couch, happily soaking up such brain blighting fare as Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Starsky and Hutch, Mannix, and Kung Fu Theatre.

But sometimes, we left my Dad to his soporific entertainment, and went in search of more stimulating activity. We usually found it, because back then, kids knew how to play. We would spend hours constructing villages out of our Playskool sets, or setting up a house for our Barbies with that lovely blow-up furniture that was supposed to make us feel better about not having the Dreamhouse or the Corvette. Or, we’d make up our own plays and create elaborate costumes and sets to act them out. We had an enormous sandbox and we often spent entire afternoons in there with our many gerbils, digging tunnels and creating mazes for them. SIGH. Those were idyllic days.

On the rare occasions that we couldn’t seem to find anything to amuse ourselves, we usually resorted to finding new and interesting ways to exploit Baby Sister, who was always eager and accommodating. I remember sandwiching her between two vomit green vinyl beanbags and sending her careening down the urine yellow carpeted stairs. Our childhood home was a two-story turn of the century craftsman style behemoth, and the stairs were steep and treacherous.

A perfect place to play, in other words. Naturally, decided to send Baby Sister on a test run.

We held our breaths as the S.S Beanbag crested the top step and then gasped with horror and amazement as it tipped over and shot down far faster than we had anticipated. Our hearts leapt into our throats when she crashed into the coat closet at the foot of the steps with bone jarring force. We sat looking at one another in stunned silence. Surely we had killed her. Middle Sister’s eyes began to fill with tears and her lower lip began to tremble.

“Is she….?”

The d word, she meant. We were going to 9 year old jail and we both knew it. The thought of gruel and sack dresses and sock darning made my own eyes water.

“No stupid she isn’t dead!” I said, with far more certainty than I felt.

Suddenly Baby sister emerged disheveled and red faced, but definitely, wondrously, obligingly….not dead.

“Adain!” she cried, clapping her chubby hands with glee.

So we got a reprieve from 9 year old jail, but the wisdom that such an opportunity should impart, is often wasted on the young and invincible. We had many more such exploits, and amazingly, we still made it to adulthood relatively unscathed.

This particular day, Baby sister was eventually found standing quietly in the tub with the shower curtain drawn; hands folded over her little belly and looking for all the world like an apple cheeked friar. Further investigation revealed that her beatific stance was due to the fact that her hands were firmly cemented together with Mom’s oatmeal and honey face mask, the remainder of which was smeared on every visible surface in the bathroom. It had dried thoroughly leaving her quite stuck and quite helpless.

My dad ran a bath and put her in, hoping the warm water would eventually penetrate the mask and free her. It took some soaking, but finally her hands were freed from their glutinous prison.

The supposition is that she, being somewhat inclined to borrow trouble, had gotten into the face mask and had a grand old time creating satisfying peaks and whorls with the obligingly glutinous substance. Ostensibly, at some point, she realized she was going to get into Big Trouble, and climbed in the shower to hide, whereupon her hands dried together.

It’s a pretty solid theory given the evidence, but Middle Sister and I know better.

Monday, February 18, 2008


(Warning: My Saturday evening was very, very long. And in consequence, so is this post. Also, it's a little whiny. Read at your own risk)

Saturday afternoon, Diminutive One's fever spiked to 103, despite the antibiotics he had been on since Tuesday and the children's Motrin I had been cramming into him for the past 24 hours.

I've been a mom for 13 years. I've done this a time or two. And still those little fingers of panic ripple up my spine when my children are sick.

Realistically, I know it's probably something viral and that's why the antibiotics haven't stopped it. I know it's likely that he's just got the flu or an ear infection or something run of the mill.

But there is something about the sight of a normally exuberant and energetic child reduced to a nearly comatose state, with flushed cheeks and glassy eyes that strikes fear into a Mother's heart.

"Mom" he croaked, "My back hurts and my neck hurts and it hurts to move my eyes."

Pre-Pubescent One makes sure I know about every ache and pain that he has, real or imagined. I treat his complaints with a kind of concerned skepticism.

But Diminutive One is incredibly stoic. He will rarely admit to being hurt or sick. Once, he had a splinter that got so horribly infected that he needed medical attention. I never even knew until he came to me and said "Um, I think I might need to go to the doctor." Indeed he did.

So when he told me his back and neck were hurting, I took it seriously. And I began thinking scary medical things like "meningitis".

At 3:30 we set off for urgent care and I jokingly told Husband "Well, I guess we'll see you around ten o'clock."

I would regret those blithely uttered words later.

The first urgent care facility we visited had a sign on the door saying they were closed due to physician illness.


I called husband and asked him to locate the next closest urgent care facility. Diminutive One moaned piteously in the back seat while we waited. After a few moments Husband called back and told me there was another one just down the road. We headed over there, and as I had anticipated, the parking lot was full. But when I got to the door, practically carrying my 100lb child, I was confronted by another sign that said simply "Closed". The lights were off, there was nobody within.

Swearing, I half carried, half dragged Diminutive One back to the van and called Husband again. He gave me coordinates for a third location. I asked him if he would call and make sure they were open, because it was quite a drive and I didn't want to get all the way over there only to find that they too, were closed.

Diminutive One was begging me to go home. "Please Mom, I'm okay. I just want to go home and go to bed. I'm so cooooooold! I want my blanket." I turned the heat up full blast, handed him my coat to cover up with and cursed myself for not thinking to bring his blanket.

When it was confirmed that the third place was open, we sallied forth once again.

The parking lot of the third place was also overflowing. Naturally, all the patients who had tried the other two places had ended up here. I took Diminutive One in, expecting a wait, and resigning myself. I had a book, two bottles of water, and a granola bar.

When we checked in, I noted that the waiting room was not quite as full as I had expected. I asked the girl at the desk if she had any idea what the wait time would be. She merely shrugged her shoulders and said "I'm sorry, I really have no idea. As you can see, we're real busy today."

We settled down to wait.

Diminutive One was very, very sick. He was clearly the sickest person in that waiting room. There was no place comfortable for him to rest. He tried leaning against me, but the wooden arm of the chair cut into his side. He tried curling up in the ridiculously small chair, but his feet kept slipping off the edge. He tried sitting with his head tilted back resting on the chair back, but he kept falling asleep and his head would drop off to the side, startling him awake.

Finally, I pulled two chairs together to make a little bed, gave him my sweathshirt for a pillow and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. I got a few dirty looks for using up a chair, but I didn't care. I went into the bathroom to get a paper towel to make a cold compress, but there was only a hand dryer. I rummaged around in the cabinets until I found a package of rough brown paper towels. I wet one and took it back to Diminutive One. He moaned with relief when I applied it to his burning brow.

For an hour and a half, not one single person was called back.

Every time the door opened, everyone in the waiting area looked up expectantly, hopefully. But invariably, it was someone exiting the examination area with a paper in their hand and a weary look on their face.

If all these people were being discharged, why was no one being admitted?

The girls at the desk bantered good naturedly. I started to get very annoyed with them for being so cheerful when all these people were miserable. Yes, it was irrational and unfair, but I was developing a migraine, I was worried about my child, and my ass was falling asleep from the torturous chair I had been sitting in for 90 minutes.

Finally, one name was called. I thought the woman who was admitted was going to dance a jig, so great was her relief.

The nurse who was ushering her back glanced at Diminutive One lying so deathly still in his makeshift little bed. His cheeks were bright red, his lips were cracked and his eyes were dull. The pulse that beat in his neck was disconcertingly rapid. I saw a flicker of concern on her face, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, she would go back and suggest to the people in charge that Diminutive One needed to be seen right away.

No such luck, however. We waited another hour before his name was finally called. I consoled him with sips of water and fresh paper towels.

When finally we were ushered back into the secret realm of all things medical, the nurse who attended us was very difficult not to laugh at.

He was short, blonde and constantly said things such as, "like", "totally" and "dude". His speech had that curious half questioning cadence that you hear from adolescents and valley girls.

Example: "I think you totally got the flu Dude. Like, what color is your snot?"

To me: "Like, you know when he coughs? Is it like, loose and pleghmy or all like....hacking and tight?"

I swear he couldn't have been more than 15.

But it was fine. He seemed to know how to use a blood pressure cuff and he was nice to Diminutive One.

"I know you totally don't feel good, little Dude. But we'll get you fixed up."

He made Diminutive One snot on a big q-tip. That was interesting. Then he peered at it closely, getting his face way closer to my son's sputum than I would ever have dared, and declared, "Dude. I need some real snot. Really snork it on there, k?"

Finally we had enough sputum to suit Valley Nurse, and he disappeared with the q-tip, which was now liberally dripping with my son's nasal effluvium.

There was more waiting of course, but not as long as I'd anticipated. The doctor came in, and told us Diminutive One had tested positive for the dreaded flu.

"It's really brutal this year." he said cheerfully.

After some discussion, Diminutive One agreed to a shot. I doubt we would have secured his cooperation quite so easily had he known that it would be given in his gluteal region. The doctor promised to send in his best shot giver, and left.

Several moments later, the shot giver entered. I was a little taken aback. He was well over six feet tall, as round as an egg and had bright red hair in a ring around his otherwise bald head. Across the top of his shiny pate, several fine fiery strands had been coaxed into standing straight up. He wore thick rimmed rectangular glasses the same color as his hair. His scrubs were nearly as flamboyant as his hair. He was truly something to behold.

"Heeeeey ya'all, I'm Kevin. You know what I'm here to do, right?"

Dimintuive One nodded morosely.

"Alright. Well, I promise, I am real good at this, so I'm going to make it as quick as possible. Do you want some cold spray or are you going to tough it out without it?"

"Cold Spray" said Diminitive One emphatically. His tough guy veneer would take him only so far. He did not scruple to ambivalence when it came to shots.

"Alright big man, give me some bum then."

Diminutive looked at him blankly, but then, realization dawned on his face.

"Uh-uh, no way. I'm not getting a shot in my butt!"

"Two actually. But I really just need your hip-ish. Kind of near your butt, but not really your butt. All you have to do is unbutton your pants and pull them down a little. I don't need the full moon over Miami."

Diminutive One sighed and rolled over.

The man was fast, I'll give him that. And Diminutive One was clearly pained, but did his best not to show it. He simply said "AAaaaahhhhhhh!" and clenched his teeth.

It was over quickly and Kevin gave us our discharge papers, a prescription for Tamiflu, and exhorted us to practice dilligent hand-washing, because, he said ominously, he's already contaminated your entire house and you've all been exposed.


When we left the clinic it was 8:30. I knew that most Walgreen's pharmacies stayed open until 9:00, so I drove like a bat out of hell to the nearest one, which was a good 20 minutes away. It was closed. I said some very bad words. I bought some more Motrin for Diminutive One and dragged his poor flu ridden and now, sore in the posterior self, back to the van.

I had promised Diminutive One a green apple slushie from Sonic to secure his acqueisence to the shot, so we started over that way while I called husband.

"Find me a 24 hour pharmacy. He's got to get some of this stuff into him tonight and I don't know how much further I can drive."

My migraine, which had been mild when we set out, had roared into full blown prominence and my night vision, which since Lasik, is questionable, was made worse by the fact that each little pinprick of light was driving a tiny, brilliant shard of pain through my right eyeball into my cowering, quivering skull.

He called me back while I was in the Sonic drive through and told me that the Walgreen's on the corner of CityStreet and MetroHighway has a 24 hour pharmacy. We were, fortuitously, mere feet from it and I sighed with relief.

My relief was short lived, however, when I arrived at the pharmacy to find that everone else in the world was there too. The line stretched from the Pharmacy clear into cosmetics. There was one person working the drive-up window, and one taking care of everybody else.

I eased Diminutive One into a chair and took my place in line. I mused, as I waited, that having a sick kid does have some advantages. Normally, if we have to wait for anything, Diminutive One bounces off the walls with impatience. He pesters, he fidgets, he makes me crazy. But tonight, he simply sat slumped in the chair sipping his slushie and generally looking pitiful. Several grandmotherly types clucked at him sympathetically as they passed.

I turned in my prescription and was informed I would be called in 20-30 minutes. More waiting. SIGH.

I sat there people watching and people listening and marvelled at how we are all so much the same. All of us get sick, we all need comfort, we all need someone to care. Most everyone waiting was kind and considerate to one another, recognizing their own misery in each other.

But there is always the random jerk-off isn't there?

Next to us was seated a tatooed gentleman who was entirely bald and sported several wicked looking facial piercings. He joked continually with his companion, a thin girl whose low slung pants barely concealed her pubic hair, about the staff, the people in line, and the muzak.

I couldn't help thinking that under his jocular veneer, which was so at odds with his menacing appearance, there was a real darkness of spirit. Where everyone else seemed genuinely compassionate and sorry for the woes of their line buddy, he seemed to harbor a contempt that his jokes could not conceal.

He began to irritate me.

A family came in with a little boy who was obviously very sick. He cough was harsh and strained. His little face reddened with the effort to clear his congested lungs. He could be heard coughing all over the store and I felt myself tensing each time, waiting for him to stop coughing and take an easy breath.

The jerk sitting next to me said, "Jesus, give that kid some Robitussin or something. He sounds like a friggin seal, hahaha!"

I don't know what posessed me. I guess that I had been patient, and reasonable and civil for SIX hours when all I wanted to do was scream for somebody to get off their asses and take care of my son. And my head hurt. Badly.

So that's when I felt compelled to say,

"Why don't you just shut your mouth?"

He looked at me, clearly stunned.

"What's your problem lady?" he growled.

"My problem is that everyone here is sick, and tired and miserable. And idiots like you make waiting torture. So why don't you just do us all a favor and shut. the fuck. UP?"

A man standing up adjacent to us gave a snort of laughter and clapped. The woman seated behind me said "Mmmmmhmmmmm." in agreement. The rest of the people in line looked amused, but clearly did not want to get involved.

"Go to hell, bitch."

"If it meant getting away from you, I would be happy to. Unfortunately, I have to wait here for medicine for my son." I motioned to Diminutive One behind me, who was, at this point, nearly done for.

He got up and stalked off. His pallid girlfriend looked at me apologetically and muttered "Sorry." before rushing to join him.

"Mom, you said the f word." croaked Diminutive One.

"Yes, I know."

"That was awesome."

Okay, none of that happened. But I did sit there and fantasize about it for quite some time. I did mutter "asshole" under my breath when finally he collected his prescription (is it wrong that I hoped it was a very painful and persistend std?) and left.

Finally our name was called. I paid an exorbitant amount of money for the Tamiflu and left.

When at last we reached home, it was 9:45 and I recalled the words I had spoken flippantly to Husband as we left. Unbelievable.

The next day, Husband went to urgent care himself, since it became clear that the terrible cough and body aches he had been nursing for several days were probably the result of the flu.

And I was lucky enough to pick up some sort of stomach thing whilst sitting in the germ riddled waiting room for three hours.

We are all very hunkered. Except Pre-Pubescent One, who said to me morosely, as I lay there trying not to jostle my aching head and/or spew the meagre contents of my stomach into the wastebasket next to the bed, "So, I guess we aren't going shopping for new shoes today, huh?"

Infanticide. Is it any wonder?

So there is the story of my Saturday night Odyssey. Well, it beats dancing the night away with carefree abandon and ending up in the bed of some strange guy wondering how you got there, but knowing, somehow, that it was worth it, eh?

As Jess would say...Oh, the joys.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

EW. And Other Stuff

Yannow, when I titled the post about same sex couples parenting, I was going for something that would grab the attention of the reader. Maybe even shock them. I thought it was an important topic and I wanted people to read what I had to say.

But then one of my commenters had to go and bust the sparkling irridescent bubble of my Google innocence by remaking that the title of my post was sure to result in some interesting search terms on my statcounter.

Of course, she was right, and I've had many folks, both foreign and domestic, but oddly mostly from far flung foreign locales, (is everyone from Malaysia a pervert and where the hell is Ljubljana?) land on my blog searching for content about Mom's kitty kat.

That's gross, but it doesn't necessarily surprise me. I've been around the net. I know what's out there.

But clearly Freud's detractors, who declared his theory about the Oedipus complex to be poppycock, would be dismayed by the savagery and depravity of the human jungle that is the world wide web.

I doubt their Victorian sensibilities could have withstood the shock.

Savvy and jaded as I am, however, the search term "child p*ssy love" gave me a bit of a lurch in the stomachal region.

So even though my boy's do not posess the proper anatomy to gratify this particular brand of pervert, there are plenty of predators that do prefer little boys.

That is why I don't put pictures of my children on my blog. And that is why I will, in the future, be more judicious about my use of gratutious sexual slang in my post titles.


In other news, my oldest child and my spouse are in man heaven. They are playing Guitar Hero on our new 50 inch television. They are practically ejaculating.

Currently, they are fumbling through rocking "Barracuda". I simply cannot take it. I have a low tolerance for noise anyway, and whining guitars are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

You know that bit at the end of Freebird? I know, I know, it's one of the greatest pieces of musical artistry ever perpetrated by a guitarist. But it makes me suicidal. And right now, the continual discordance of wrong notes is making me want to jam a fork in my ears until they bleed.

Seriously, as we speak, I am rummaging in my side table drawer for an implement to hasten my descent in to blissfull silence. Yathink an emory board would suffice?

Karen Carpenter crooning "We've Only Just Begun" is much more my speed. I really do dig The Carepenters.

For those who asked, I think June is going to go above my bed. This will necessitate some painting, for our room is currently a sickly shade of 1957 mint green, and June simply cannot reside upon a wall that is not painted some suitably warm and citrusy hue.

I know you are waiting to hear the results of my Strike experiment. I will sit down and write about it for you when my brain is not addled by sleep deprivation. Diminutive One is ill and I've been up all night watching his toss and turn in a feverish frenzy.

Even when they're big, it's distressing to see them flushed and lethargic. And even when they're big, the doctor debate still occurs. Do I take him? Do I not take him? He feels rotten and I hate to subject him to a long wait in the emergency room or an immediate care clinic unnecessarily. On the other hand...well, I don't like the other hand, but we Moms always have to consider it don't we?

To whomever it was who recommended Pat Conroy as a Southern Writer worth reading...thank you. I'm currently reading "Prince Of Tides" and his writing is absolutely delicious.

To those of you who recommended I give "Fountainhead" a try...well, I did try. I couldn't read it. Perhaps I'm not intellectual enough, but I was bored to tears. That happened with Madame Bovary and Wuthering Heights as well. I found Heathcliff not to be tragically and romantically truculent, but rather, a churlish boor.

Still, I'm going to try "Atlas Shrugged" and see if I can muddle through it. I have some pathological need to say that I read Ayn Rand and loved it.

Happy Weekend to you all.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Best. Husband. Ever.

The title of my post today was going to be "Best. Wife. Ever."

Because I allowed my husband to mount a 50 inch high def plasma screen television above the mantle in our living room.

You may think...So? What's the big deal?

Well, you see...I live in a house full of men, and as such, I don't have a whole lot of space for feminine frippery.

Once, a piece from my treasured collection of vintage perfume bottles met with a grisly end when a ball was tossed into the ceiling fan and careened into the bookshelves where I had them displayed. Since then, I don't really scatter knicky-knacky things about like many women do, because they are sure to meet with a similar fate.

But I had a few cherished things upon the mantle. It looked nice.

I had a set of brass etchings that we bought in Paris on our honeymoon from a street artisan whose booth was set up at the base of Montmartre. I look at them and remember the majesty of Sacre Couer and how we joked as we climbed a very narrow staircase to the top that we hoped there wasn't a fire.

I had a set of Waterford Crystal candlesticks rimmed in 18 kt gold that we got as a wedding gift. I rarely light them because I don't want them damaged. But I love to look at them. I love having them.

I had a Mikasa crystal decanter, also a wedding gift, filled with petals from a bouquet that Husband gave me on some long forgotten occasion.

I had pictures of my boys, including my favorite one of Diminutive One. The look on his face is quintessiantially, essentially, superbly...him.

I had a mirror in a beautiful frame that I got when a very chi-chi home decor store went out of business.

Now, there is an enormous black rectangle. It's not attractive.

But you know what? Either is the rest of my living room. It's a dark, low ceilinged room with bland white walls and ugly teal green furniture. It isn't a showplace. It isn't a sanctuary. It's just a room.

So what do I care?

I said to some friends not long ago, that one day I would have my sanctuary; a beautiful high ceilinged room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and an ornate fireplace above which I would mount a copy of my favorite painting.

So I wasn't terribly upset about the fact that his new television is now dominating the landscape in our livingroom.

Still. I did plan to get some mileage out of it. Mostly in the form of blog fodder, but also in the form of some good old fashioned emotional extortion.

But then, today, on a day we had agreed only to give cards and chocolates, he presented me with this:

Damn him. He totally ruined my pithy title.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So There

Don't you love it when people leave snarky comments on archived posts? Boy, that takes some balls, dunnit?

Today I got a comment from a gentlemen on my post entitled "Missing" who said that I "asked for it" when I allowed my son to ride the school bus.

He also questioned why I wouldn't have picked my son up on the first day of school, and/or gone to school to make sure he knew what to do.

Well, in that post, I explained, in detail, why I allowed him to take the bus. But aside from that...

Ever hear of sneak-a-peek asswipe?

Sometimes known as "orientation". Occasionally called "meet and greet".

Yeah. Pretty much every school in the contiguous United States has it.

What is sneak-a-peek? Glad you asked.

Sneak a peek is a day prior to the first day of the school, where kids and parents go to the school to find the classroom, meet the teacher, find their desk, tour the school, AND WALK THE ROUTE FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE BUS PORT OR THE CARLINE.

But thanks for assuming I threw my five year old son to the wolves on his very first day of school.

Pardon me for saying so...but since we're being brutally honest here, I feel I can be candid...I've been accused of buying into the stereotype that religious folks are hyper critical, judgemental and self-righteous, and boy...I can't say you've done much to dissuade me from that position.

Way to go.

Okay, I'm done with him now. Back to you, my faithful readers.

You know, I usually just ignore snarky comments. I've been through some stuff on the net that has caused me to develop a teflon hide. I've also learned that not feeding trolls is generally the best way to deal with them, because of their pathological need for attention.

And I honestly don't give a rat's ass what some anonymous shit for brains has to say about me, my parenting, or my character anyway.

I am also quite aware that by blogging, I am pandering my life for comments. It hardly seems realistic or fair to complain when comments are not all praise and accolades.

I think I have demonstrated that I am open to all manner of discussion, and that I don't subscribe to the "agree with me or piss off" mentality.

But that one? Yeah. That pissed me off.

People...I was nearly incoherent with fear. I pictured my beautiful baby boy broken, bleeding, tortured and raped by some maniac. I pictured him cold and hungry and crying for his Mother. I imagined him hurt and bewildered, wondering WHY I didn't come for him.

It's the kind of fear that once experienced, never leaves a mother.

It's the kind of fear that whispers sinister things in my ear every time I have to let my children out into the world. It's the kind of fear that compels me to mentally catalogue my children every time they leave the house and hold my breathe until they come home. It's the kind of fear that sends me to their room every single night, to watch them sleeping and thank the stars above for the few hours of certainty that I have, knowing they are safe and whole.

We mothers put enough pressure on ourselves without judgemental assholes with no inkiling about what it means to be responsible for the safety, the health, the very livelihood of another human being every single minute of every single day....telling us we "asked for it" when something goes wrong.

And things do go wrong, sometimes. Because we are fallible. Mother Nature does not, unfortunately, render us irreproachable upon giving birth. She does not confer upon us the gift of perfection at conception.

We all get tired. We all get distracted. We all get caught up in the whirlwind of daily life.

We all make mistakes. And we agonize over each and every one.

But nobody asks for that.


(Clarification: This particular person did not, to his credit, post anonymously. When I said "some anonymous shit for brains" I was speaking generally of other anonymous shit for brainses who have left snarky comments on occasion.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On Strike

I have decided to go on strike.

Let me start by saying that I absolutely, positively, unequivocally abhor cooking.

I would rather do almost anything other than cooking. Once, Diminutive One asked me if I ever make cakes and cookies and stuff just for fun. I don't bake, you see. And he, being a connoisseur of all things baked, finds this unacceptable.

"Diminutive One my dear, I find 'fun' and 'cooking' to be a contradiction in terms."


"What I mean is, I don't find cooking fun."

"You don't?"

"No. I don't like it at all."

" do it all the time."


I could see that his wheels were turning. He is a smart kid and certainly not inclined to let an opportunity go unexploited.

"Well, why don't you just ask Dad to pick up dinner on his way home? Then you wouldn't have to cook stuff."

"From where?"

He shrugged with exaggerated nonchalance. He was onto something, but he didn't want to give away his eagerness and blow the sale.

"I don't know....there's McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic, Zaxby's. We could have something different every night. It would be great!"

"Well, not cooking would be wonderful. But it wouldn't be healthy for us to eat that stuff every night. It's my job to provide you guys with nutritious food. So I do it because it's part of taking good care of you."

He was noticeably crestfallen. Aside from being a lover of baked goods, Diminutive One is a junk food junkie. And if it isn't fried, frenched, pattied or fingered, it's simply not worth eating.

Pre-Pubescent One is a much more adventurous eater and I don't have to worry much about what he eats. But it's how and when he eats that presents a problem. At his school, they must eat in shifts. His lunch period begins at 11:30. They have 20 minutes to eat, which includes the time they must wait in line for hot lunch. He often has to bolt his food and doesn't finish all of his meal. And then, he doesnt' get off the bus until 4:45.

A hastily eaten early lunch, combined with a raging metabolism, means he is always STARVING when he walks in the door. Unless I have supper ready at that very moment, he is mewling with hunger. And of course, I allow him have a snack. Because a Mom reacts to a child's hunger with an age old urgency. It pains a mother not to feed a hungry child.

As a result, he often is not hungry at dinner time and merely picks at his food. But guess what happens if he doesn't eat dinner? And hour later, he is STARVING again.

This is all very frustrating for me.

Although I hate cooking, I am actually pretty good at it, and I manage to provide what I think, are reasonably nutritious and fairly delicious meals. Admittedly, I do sometimes give in to the seductive simplicity of corn dogs, sloppy joes and frozen pizza. But I try to make those occurances infrequent.

So I spend a lot of time doing something I loathe, because I feel that it's part of my responsibility as a mother, and because it's good for my family.

The fact that it goes entirely unappreciated is sometimes a little tough to take.

Last night I made a pretty pedestrian meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn and spinach (corn for the kids, spinach for Husband and me). These are all foods that have met with approval and even enthusiasm on previous occasions, so I really wasn't prepared for the battle that ensued.

My children behaved as if I was trying to feed them toxic waste. They moaned, they groaned, they wheedled and they whined. Diminutive One emphatically stated exactly what he would eat and what he would not. Pre-Pubescent One complained that he wasn't hungry because he had a snack. They both pushed their food around their plate and insisted that they had eaten.

Then they began to bargain, telling me they would eat, but only if.

That's when I lost my temper.

"You know what? I'm not cooking anymore. Do you guys know how much I hate cooking? I HATE it. And I spend a lot of time doing it because it's my job and I care about you having nutritious food to eat. But nobody seems to give a shit. And I'm sick and tired of spending hours preparing a meal only to listen to you two ungrateful little brats whine and complain. I'm done. You can feed yourselves from now on."

I left the table and went to my room. Stunned silence followed me up the stairs. They realized that I was well and truly pissed off.

When I came down, the table was cleared, the dishes put away, and the kitchen tidy. Husband had made them eat every. single. bite. and then clean up. They both came to me shamefacedly and apologized. I apologized for saying hurtful things.

They felt better. I did not.

Because the problem isn't solved. Although losing my temper might have been cathartic, in the long term, it wasn't terribly constructive.

I need to take action.

So tonight, my children will likely be eating peanut butter sandwiches of their own making.

I'm not kidding.

Not even a little.

Did you ever see that movie "Failure to Launch?" It's the cinematic realization of my worst nightmare.

I will raise self-sufficient children, dammit. And I will not foist upon the world husbands who expect their wives to parent them. I will not beleaguer those poor someday women with men who insist that their mothers were the very essence of domesticity and servility.

Will it work? Hell, I don't know. But it's better than nothing, right?

At the very least, I'll get the evening off.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Medicated Child; Part II

In 2nd grade, my oldest child began having problems in school, I first thought it was due to having recently relocated from private school to public.

He read at 4, was doing simple algebraic equations by first grade and had the critical thinking skills of a much older child.

How could he possibly be struggling?

I blamed the teacher, the lack of one on one interaction, and the failings of the public school system to treat children as individuals. I told myself he was bored because he was so advanced. I told everybody else too.

But despite my efforts to assure myself, I began to feel some niggling doubt. And, some fear. Things had begun happening at home too. Little things, things that caused most friends and relatives to assert that "He's just being a typical boy."

But I knew better. His academic edge was disappearing as he struggled with routine tasks. His intelligence hadn't evaporated, that I knew. So very slowly, I allowed myself to admit that there was something wrong.

The following year, his teacher, who was Teacher of the Year in our district and for whom I had an enormous amount of respect, requested a conference shortly after school started. She gently suggested to me that he might benefit from an evaluation by the school psychologist.

I asked her if she thought his problem went beyond what was typical distractability for a boy his age. Her reply was simple, but emphatic. Yes.

It was both a shock and a relief. But at least I had somewhere to start. And so, we did it. And then I took the little piece of paper they gave me, which suggested that maybe my son had a tendency towards innattentiveness and anxiety, to a pyschiatrist, unsure of what was going to happen.

I chose his therapist from our preferred provider list.

On our first visit, she took the paper I presented to her, skimmed it briefly, and then said,

"It looks like ADHD. Let's put him on Concerta and Strattera for that, and Paxil for his anxiety."

I looked at her, stunned. She hadn't even spoken to him. She had no idea what was going on with my child, apart from the very vague information on that paper. And yet, she felt comfortable prescribing a powerful chemical cocktail for him.

"Uh. Is there anything aside from medication that we could try first?"

Now she looked stunned. I really didn't think my questions was that unusual, but apparently it was.

"Well, what are his symptoms?"

Perhaps it would have been prudent to ask that question before prescribing three types of medication for an 8 year old child....hmmmmm?

We talked for about 30 minutes, but she barely spoke to Pre-Pubescent One. She really did not know him as a person or a patient, nor, I suspected, did she care to. To her, he was a chart, a case...30 minutes out of her busy day.

Luckily, I had already done a lot of research on meds as well as behavior modification techniques, many of which we were already implementing. I had also spoken with several women whose children had a multitude of issues and who had a wealth of experience between them when it came to dealing with doctors and navigating the system.

I knew that the best approach to these disorders was a combination of therapy, behavior modification and medication. I had already accepted that he would most likely need some medication, but I'd be damnded if I was going to start pumping him full of drugs willy nilly.

I took a deep breathe and said to the doctor,

"We would like to start with a small dose of Strattera and see how that meets his needs. We can increase if necessary. I do not believe he has hyperactivity, so I don't want to consider stimulants yet. And I believe that much of his anxiety is directly related to his problems at school, so I would like to wait and see if that improves on it's own once his other symptoms are addressed."

Again, she looked stunned.

"Well...we could try that approach, yes."

"Good, then we're agreed."

"But in my experience as a licensed mental health practitioner, the combination I suggested would be the most effective."

"Upon what criteria is that opinion based?"

She had no answer for me. She had not conducted a thorough clinical evaluation. She hadn't even spoken to my son. She hadn't consulted his teacher, or even asked ME very many questions.

Finally, she said, "It's based upon historical data, education and experience."

I wanted to tell her that my child was more than historical data. He was a person, a child, with hopes and dreams and tons of unrealized potential. He wasn't a lab rat or a control group. And her experience meant nothing to me, since she had none with my son.

But I held my tongue and took the prescription for Strattera.

And that was that. We did not go back.

I asked our family practitioner if she would be willing to monitor his liver function, blood pressure and growth and prescribe as necessary, which she agreed to do, provded we find another mental health professional to see several times a year.

The Strattera helped him enormously, his side effects were few, and his anxiety lessened noticeably once he began doing better in school. He tested into the gifted and talented program, and began taking accelerated math classes. For the first time in several years, I felt his performance reflected his true capability.

Needless to say, I was relieved.

We had an entirely different experience with Diminutive One, thankfully. I originally took him to see the child psychologist for reasons unrelated to a learning disorder. She was a god send for us both. She did a very thorough evaluation. She interviewed both Husband and me, as well as several of his teachers. She observed him for nearly six months before offering a diagnosis and suggesting a very conservative dose of Concerta.

But aside from just writing a prescription, she offered me a lot of constructive and creative solutions for dealing with his behavior. She listened to me when I was frustrated. And she was a calming influence when I couldn't cope.

She helped him take responsibility for his actions and to recognize when he was getting out of control. She gave him a lot of tools for dealing with the stress of being "different" and helped him to realize that he had great potential. She helped him to believe in himself.

She was everything I had hoped to find for Pre-Pubescent One.

Now both my boys take medication. They are doing well. They may outgrow their respective conditions, they may not. But I have come to terms with being the parent of medicated children.

It is not something I have accepted lightly, however.

I really dragged my feet with Diminutive One's diagnosis. I was reluctant to give him stimulants. Their side effects are much more profound, and it can lead to a cascade effect in terms of medications. I was extremely nervous about going down that road.

But it has turned out to be the right decision to make. It has helped him so enormously, that I initially suffered a lot of guilt over not giving them to him sooner.

What we have to understand as parents, is that medication is a tool. Not a quick fix. Not a solution. A tool.

Diminutive One is a stubborn, defiant, persistent, strong willed, and sometimes, profoundly irksome child. That cannot be medicated away. Because if we medicate that away, we also medicate away the creative, perceptive, intuitive, inquisitive child. And that would be a terrible tragedy. I don't want to change who he is. I just want him to be able to lead the best life possible.

It's true that most of us do not posses a medical degree. But most of us do possess a modicum of common sense, as well as a pretty strong maternal instinct. We know when a clinician has not taken the time to evaluate our children thoroughly. We know when they are prescribing medications for our children injudiciously. And we know when the essence of our child has disappeared in a miasma of pharmaceutical side effects.

My advice to parents facing the decision of whether or not to medicate their children is this:

1. Question everything.

2. Do your homework.

3. Know your child, listen to your child.

4. Trust your instincts.

5. Don't be intimidated by clinicians who presume to know better than you do, how to treat your child. A medical degree is not a guarantee of infallibility.

6. If it feels wrong, it probably is.

7. It's okay not to follow the advice of a clinician.

8. It's okay to seek a second opinion.

9. It's okay to change doctors.

10. It's okay to change your mind.

11. YOU make the decisions. NOT the doctor.

It's truly frightening to contemplate medicating your child, especially when it's quite clear that children are being routinely misdiagnosed and drugs are being overprescribed to an alarming degree.

A defining moment for me with both of my boys, was witnessing the devastating effects these disorders were having on their self-esteem.

Ask any parent who has heard thier child say, "Mom, I'm just too stupid." Ask any parent who has heard anguish and defeat and worthlessness in their child's voice. Ask any parent who has watched a brilliant child fail time and time and time again. It will do a lot to motivate a parent to find what is wrong and how to fix it.

Prescribed and used properly, these drugs can really help a child that is struggling. They can help otherwise deeply disturbed children lead normal lives. They can help intelligent children realize their potential. They can help painfully withdrawn and isolated children step out into the world.

We have more tools at our disposal these days than our parents ever did. More resources. More options. More power to change the world for our children.

And I think we can.

We just have to be smart about it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Medicated Child; Part I

I recorded The Medicated Child months ago, but hadn't watched it yet.

Honestly, I was a little afraid to.

The decision to medicate my boys was not an easy one, and I still occasionally second guess myself, even though it is clear that medication is helping them both enormously.

But we are getting a new DVR (because we are getting a new tv and for some reason that I can't quite grasp, the old DVR won't work with the new tv. Nor will the old dvd player. Or the old speakers. Or the old cable....) and so, I will lose everything in my queue.

So I watched it last night and as I suspected, I was a little freaked out. A little shocked. Terribly saddened. Inexplicably angry. And amazingly grateful.

There is an incredibly chilling segment where an angelic looking five year old girl discusses how she would kill her parents.

There is a sixteen year old boy who takes so many medications that he experiences constant and perhaps, irreversible tics.

There is a 4 year old who is dead because of anti-psychotic medications.

I think it's something that's worth watching, even if your children are "normal". Because in the last ten years, there has been a 4000% increase in the number of children diagnosed with and prescribed antipsychotic, mood altering, anti-anxiety and ADD/ADHD drugs.

Four THOUSAND percent. That is absolutely staggering.

Children in the United States are prescribed these drugs 4 times more than children in the rest of world combined.

And your child could be next.

Your child could be diagnosed as learning disabled. Anxious. Moody. Anti-social. Oppositional. Defiant.

I have more to share on the issue of medicating children, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

You can view it online by clicking the link above. Go watch. And watch the 2001 Frontline Program Medicating Kids.

They will change your perspective.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Parenting a child who is wired a little differently has taught me a lot of things. Truthfully, he has taught me far more than I have taught him. And one of the most important things he has taught me, is that I have to be his champion.

When there is nobody else in his corner, when the world is against him, when injustice and bias and intolerance threaten, when he is being slapped with insulting labels and shoved into ill-fitting boxes...I have to be the one to stand up and demand that my child be given the same treatment and opportunities as every other child.

No. Better.

That's really hard to do sometimes. Nobody wants to be *that* mother. Nobody wants to be the one that is talked about in the staff room. Nobody wants to be the one that makes teachers, administrators and office staff cringe. Nobody relishes cultivating a reputation as a bitch on wheels.

But it's possible to advocate for your child without being the quintissential problem parent. Oh, sometimes you have to rant and rave to get what you need, but most of the time, you can accomplish your goals with the right combination of determination, politesse, and a little good old fashioned flattery.


"Ms. Firstgrade teacher, Diminutive One tells me that you kept him in for recess today as punishment, despite our discussion about it. I understand that he has to face consequences for his bad behavior, and I will support you in any other way you see fit.

But it is especially important for children like him to be allowed to have time to decompress and unleash a little pent-up energy. Not letting him have that is only doing more harm that good. Thanks for your understanding in the matter.

BTW, I LOVED the project you assigned last week. It was a really creative way to learn about___________ and we enjoyed doing it together."

See? What I really wanted to say was:

"Listen here you dried up old prune. I specifically told you not to keep him in for recess. First, it's against the law, second, it makes him do bad things. You know it makes him do bad things. He is hyper active and he NEEDS to get outdoors and run. Seriously, how friggen hard is it to understand that taking recess away from a hyperactive child is completely counteproductive and monumentally stupid?"

This particular teacher and I went around and around about this particular issue, and eventually, I did have to go into full metal bitch mode. But I always go with diplomacy first. Usually, it's pretty effective.

I have my mother to thank for these skills. And I have her to thank for knowing when diplomacy has failed. She was never afraid to do what needed to be done. She didn't care about being *that* Mom. She always demanded the best for us. She demanded that we not be overlooked or treated differently because our clothing was second hand. She demanded that we were afforded dignity and respect, always.

I remember one day in particular...I was in 2nd grade, so that must have made me about 7. Just a baby, really.

I was sent to the principal's office for wetting my pants. I sat, wet, reeking, ashamed and miserable. It was winter in Wisconsin, and I was cold. I shivered as I sat there waiting for my mother.

I remember everything about that office; the ceiling tiles stained with amorphous yellow blobs, the hard wooden bench I sat upon that reminded me of a church pew. The smell of hot lunch, decades of cigarettes smoke, and cheap perfume. The swinging saloon style doors that led to the back office. They creaked and shuddered every time someone walked through them.

Nobody looked at me or spoke to me as I sat there.

Finally my mother arrived with my little sister upon her hip. Her hair was in curlers, which were covered by a thin nylon scarf of aqua blue. She wore lipstick, but no other makeup. She was dressed in her stay at home clothes; polyester pants and a shawl collar sweater. She hadn't intended to go anywhere that day, and I knew she hated going out like that.

She was frazzled and looked very, very angry.

She didn't look at me, but she put her hand on top of my head to smoothe my hair. Suddenly I felt a little better.

"May I help you Ma'am?"

The secretary was looking at my mother over her half moom eyeglasses with disdain. Her drawn on brows were raised, and her wrinkled ruby mouth was pursed. Her hair, which was very thin and dyed a most unbecoming and unrealistic shade of brown, was teased high off her head. The sun from the window behind her shown through her teased locks, making them look as if they were aflame.

I hated her for how she looked at my mother.

"Yes, I'm Mrs. Antagonist, b.a's Mother. I need to speak to the principal. Immediately."

"Ma'am, I'm afraid he's occupied at the moment and can't be disturbed. All we needed was for you to bring b.a. dry clothing."

"Yes, well, all *I* need is to speak with the principal. I informed b.a.'a teacher that she had a medical condition and told her that she needs to be allowed to use the restroom when she asks, as soon as she asks. Clearly, that request was not honored. So either you get the principal out here, or I will go talk to the teacher myself, RIGHT. NOW."

"Ehm, just a minute Mrs. Antagonist. I'll see if he's available."

My mother paced while she waited. She jiggled my sister up and down on her hip. She touched her hand to her curlered hair.

Finally the principal appeared. I hated him too. He had made me feel ashamed.

"Yes, Mrs. Antagonist, what can I do for you today?"

"I need to know why my instructions to the teacher, that b.a. be allowed to use the restroom when she asks, were ignored."

"Now, Mrs. Antagonist, there are 25 children in that classroom. If Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch let everybody run to the restroom every time they asked, they would never have time for learning. I'm sure you can understand that. It's time for b.a. to grow up and learn that big girls don't go to the potty every five minutes. She has to learn self control."

My mother turned the most amazing shade of scarlet I had ever seen.

"She has a MEDICAL condition, Mr. BaldyBuffoon. It's called kidney reflux and she is under a doctor's care. It means that when her body tells her that she needs to use the restroom, she is INCAPABLE of NOT using the restroom.

Do you think any child WANTS to wet their pants at school Mr. BaldyBuffoon? Can you imagine anything more humiliating? She can control herself quite well if she is allowed to use the restroom when she has the urge. Which is why I explained that all to Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch. There was NO reason this had to happen and I will NOT stand for my daughter being treated this way!"

At that moment, my baby sister chose to take a very loud, smelly and runny poo upon my mother's person. She must have been so embarassed, but she never even acknowledged the fact that she had feces running down her leg, though the odor which it imparted was difficult to ignore.

"From now on, my daughter WILL be allowed to use the bathroom EVERY TIME she asks to go. And furthermore, she WILL receive an apology from the teacher for how she was treated. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"

I don't remember what he said to her. All I remember is how utterly fantastic my mother was at that moment. She was so fierce. And it was all for me.

She motioned to me and I went to her. She put her arm around my shoulders said to Mr. BaldyBuffoon,

"I am taking her home. She's suffered enough humiliation for one day. Please inform Mrs. Meanspitefulbitch that b.a. will not be returning to the classroom today."

And we left.

When we got home, I got cookies and milk and I got to watch The Brady Bunch. My mother was angry the rest of the day, but I knew she wasn't angry with me.

The following year, I did not return to that school. I have no idea how my mother did it, but she got me and my sisters into another elementary school that was outside our district, but still within walking distance.

She wouldn't make me go back there, to Mr. BaldyBufoon's school. I overheard her telling my Dad that he was a gutless moron and the teacher was an incompetent bimbo.

So you see...I had a good role model. My mother always stood up for me, even when I didn't realize that she was fighting for my own good. There were many years when we were adversaries. I thought she was mean and that she didn't understand. She didn't care about me or what I wanted.

The thing was, she did all the things she did because she DID care, and as a parent, I realize that now.

Sometimes being a Mom means being a champion and sometimes it means being the bad guy. But it always means looking out for our children. Trying to keep them safe. Trying to help them make their way in the world without getting lost. And sometimes, when that fails, it means letting them know that you'll always find them. That you'll always be where you can be found.

Thanks Mom.

You have no idea how much that has helped me do the things I've needed to do for my son.

You have no idea how much it has helped me be...fierce.